It’s not about how you died, but has everything to do with how you lived.” – Anonymous


Twelve Farming Ways to Respond

In all honesty, you don’t really have to live on a farm to answer these questions. You may never be faced with pasty butt, but if you stop and think about it, each question still applies to any given lifestyle.


1)  Were you kind?

No matter who you are, where you live, or what lifestyle you have chosen, kindness is one of the best ways to live.  To be kind can be as simple as offering the people you encounter a genuine smile, or to pitch in and clean up after a major problem – such as a tornado, flooding or fire.  Kindness is a way of giving from your heart to those around you.


2)  Did you follow your dreams?

To me, there is nothing in this world worse than sitting around and dreaming of something you love, and not have the courage to go after it.  If it is something that truly means the world to you, then find the courage to pursue it.  Research it.  Study it.  Try your hand at it.  Save your money, if necessary, and then jump in with both feet.  Dreams won’t necessarily make you monetarily rich, but the wealth of love, joy and contentment you will get from it is better than any over-stuffed savings account.


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3)  Did you ‘cure’ a baby chick from pasty butt?

Pasty butt is a condition where droppings adhere to the down around a chick’s vent.  If not removed, it will cause blockage and result in death.  A farmer needs to keep his/her eyes peeled for this condition, and then take care with cleaning.  It is a dirty, nasty job – but somebody’s got to do it.  There are many jobs in this world that are dirty.  The Country Boy cannot clean up after the dogs with an upset stomach.  But if necessary, he will stick his arm all the way in to his shoulders to help turn or pull an unborn calf.  Sometimes, the dirty jobs are a preventative measure, and just have to be dealt with.  To do so means to preserve something precious – such as a life.


4)  Were your garden rows hoed straight?

Straight garden rows are designed to aide a farmer to get in and around the desired plants to get rid of the undesired – like pigweed.  It gives the farmer room to tend to his plants by staking, aerating and doing the actual harvest with relative ease.  Rowing straight rows in life helps you to make the right decisions, weed out that which prevents you from growing and allows you to actually see the harvest you are growing.



5)  Did you spoil your cows (chickens, goats, pigs, etc.)?

Thankfully, farming isn’t all hard work.  Our cows and chickens are admittedly spoiled rotten.  We take time out each day to scratch a brisket, smooth ruffled feathers, and offer treats.  By doing this, our animals stay calm and feel loved and cared for.  They know our appreciation for their hard work on the farm, and have a tendency to do and produce better than others that are just ‘work horses’.  People are the same way.  Give them a little encouragement, a little laughter and a lot of appreciation, and they will feel better about themselves and their jobs.  Before you know it, they will be producing more and better quality work, which makes your life a better place to live.


6) Did you sit by the pond to pray, to breathe, to ‘be still…’

Farming is a full time job.  Even with ‘off farm’ jobs, we still come home and tend to animals, gardens and chores.  Our days are long, and some days extend well past sundown.  In order to restore our balance, we require some down time.  For us, we head to the pond and sit on the prayer bench.  This is a place where we talk to God, enjoy our solitude, and take the time to just Be Still.  More ideas, plans and problem solving are done on this bench than anywhere else on the farm.  All because we take the time to breathe.  You may not have a pond and a prayer bench, but find somewhere you can sit and just be.  Create a sanctuary where nothing negative can enter.  No bad thoughts, or worries, or problems. It is one of the best ways to put your life into proper perspective.


7)  Did you muck out the chicken coop?

Life isn’t always easy.  The tough jobs need to be done to keep everything healthy and happy.  It can be anything from mucking out a barn, cleaning out a chicken coop or a garage, creating a budget or any other dreaded item on your Things To Do list.  The best way to handle these is to dive in and get started.  Before long, the chore is done and it is nothing more than a memory.  You will feel better about yourself for getting it accomplished, and if you really are cleaning out that coop, you will have a good hot shower to look forward to.


8)  Did you fix the fence?

One of our biggest issues here on our farm is our fences.  They are all older than the dirt they are set in, and some of the wire and fencing has begun to deteriorate.  Considering the cost involved in just re-fencing the entire 60 acres, we have no choice but to replace one section at a time.  In the meantime, we make necessary repairs.  By doing so, we keep the cows in and prevent disasters that could occur with them getting out on the road or in our neighbor’s gardens.  We all have some type of fences in our lives.  Take the time to repair them or replace them.  These are ‘fences’ like our moral and ethical values.  Our hearts are fences that are put in place to keep harsh words out, and only allowing kind and encouraging things in.  Consider what fences you have, and make sure they are sturdy.


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9)  Did you bale the hay?

Baling hay means that our animals will eat over the lean winter months.  We stock it up and dole it out as needed.  We take care of our pastures, so they only eat good quality hay.  What are we storing up as hay bales in life?  Are they good quality?  Do they feed our families?  Are they shared with our neighbors, and even strangers?  Good quality hay keeps a herd healthy throughout the cold days of winters.  Good quality virtual hay bales, such as kindness, lending a helping hand, gentleness and encouragement helps to get most people through a tough time in life.


10)  Did you preserve your harvest?

Preserving our harvest means we can eat well throughout the year.  We can it, freeze it, dry it and store it.  At any given meal time, at least one, if not more, of the food on our plate came from our own farm.  In other words, we have planned for our future, and our future looks good.  Are you growing the right kinds of fruits, vegetables and herbs in your garden – the kind that will see you through another year?  Are they the type that will feed you and your family, keeping you warm, sated and content?



11)  Did you help your neighbor?

We all need a helping hand from time to time.  We are always willing to help a neighbor in need, and often times come home to find Danny disked our garden or dropped off a piece of equipment we mentioned would be helpful.  George has ‘cow radar’ – if our cows are out, he is calling us to let us know while simultaneously hot-footing it outside and starting the work of corralling them back.  At times I come home to find the Country Boy is MIA –  only to find he is down at Johnny’s helping with deer processing.  It is these small acts of kindness that help us to live such a rich and rewarding life.  To give of yourself, without any anticipation of repayment, is truly one of the greatest joys in life.


12)  Are you frugal?

In a post on her A Farmish Kind of Life website, Amy Dingmann says it best regarding being frugal (for the post, see ).  Being frugal has a different meaning for each person who follows that lifestyle.  We work diligently to grow most of our own food, and are firm believers of reuse, repurpose or recycle.  Being frugal, however you want to define it, can be a true blessing to many aspects of your life – financially, having something at your fingertips and not having to run to the store to buy it, to have less stress in trying to ‘keep up with the Jones’, and to help create a better Earth by contributing less to the landfills.  But did you know there are other ways to be frugal?  Take words for instance.  If you think before you speak, and to allow those words to be kind, encouraging and truthful, you help to create a better world.


13)   Are your Priorities in order?

Setting priorities can be like stuffing Jell-O in a sausage casing.  They have a tendency to wiggle away from you, morph into different blobs, and squirt out the sides with hurricane force blasts.  With priorities, you focus until the last Jell-O sausage is tied off.  Our priorities are categorized the same way the USA looks at threats.  Green, Yellow, Orange and Red.  God is left off of this list, but only because He is considered our ONLY priority.  He gets every color in the rainbow!

For all other priorities, we look at them like this:  A sick person, animal, or anything that causes danger to us, our animals, or our neighbors, is a Red priority.  It is taken care of immediately if not sooner.  Orange means we head out to fix it, or are on our way to the store to get emergency parts..  Until red and orange are completed, everything else has to wait.  Yellow means we have a day or two, or if we are lucky, a week to get it done.  Green means it is either a dream, on the wish list, we are saving money (or looking for a day when we have plenty of time) or is already slated as a daily chore.  It all still has to be done, but we have prioritized that which is most important.

If you want to have a successful life, then it is simply a matter of setting priorities.  What is most important to you?  When you figure that out, then you will pretty much have your priorities in place.




14)  Are you truly content?

Our life lately has been hectic, to say the least.  We are having to adjust to major changes.  Change creates a domino effect, where everything else adjusts to accommodate it.  It is difficult to make those changes, but we do.  And then the Country Boy and I still sit outside, watch a gorgeous sunset, and know that we are where we should be.  Our lives are rich, our days fulfilling, and our hearts fill with a quiet joy that only comes from true, deep-seated contentment.


It doesn’t matter the way you leave this earthly world.  The big question is, how did you live while you were here?

Let me know how you answer these questions.  And if you have a sure-fired cure for pasty butt, I really want to know!


Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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